Jiang Chen didn’t think much of it when others called him a hero of Veluriyam Capital. However, he felt some embarrassment when the little girl said the same thing. He had made some good contributions to Veluriyam Capital, but he knew very well that none of them were worthy of him being hailed a hero. Plumscore Monarch was obviously surprised by Jiang Chen’s sudden visit, but she wasn’t an apologetic sort of person.
“Young lord Zhen, I had my doubts and voiced my opposition when His Majesty made your heir. With that being said, you are welcome to prove me wrong with your actions. I will not oppose your succession just for the sake of opposition. As long as you prove yourself worthy, I will offer you more support than anyone else. There’s no ulterior motive behind my words, simply that Sacred Peafowl Mountain needs an exceptional successor.” She was very cold and straightforward. If others had tried to convey such words to him, they might’ve said it in a more tactful manner to soften the blow. However, words that she delivered were forever cold and impersonal.
Those with a petty personality would be offended by her. After all, she was speaking to the young lord whom she was technically a subordinate to. Jiang Chen smiled and nodded. “Plumscore Monarch, you need not explain yourself to me. I fully understand your position. The monarchs have been by His Majesty’s side for over a millennia. It’s proof that you have all passed his test and aren’t the sort to lose sight of the greater picture when intermixing right and wrong. Otherwise, His Majesty would have never promoted you to such great heights. Of this I have never held any doubts.”
He was being incredibly straightforward as well. A hint of surprise appeared in Plumscore Monarch’s cold eyes. She had never expected young lord Zhen to hold such an opinion. When a young person was made heir, it was expected that he would also gain an accompanying air of arrogance or maybe even a bit of recklessness. However, young lord Zhen had managed to maintain an objective stance regarding the issue.
Plumscore Monarch was mildly surprised by how mature and level-headed he was. Her expression warmed a little as she nodded in response. “His Majesty didn’t make the wrong judgment when he chose us, so I’m inclined to believe that he’s made a sound judgement in choosing you as well. But unlike the commoners of Veluriyam Capital, I will not be blinded by your minor achievements. You have made some contributions to the capital, but you are still not worthy of being hailed as Veluriyam’s hero. A person’s true character and moral values are only revealed when one goes through hardships. I saw your talent in pill dao when you battled Pillfire City and then your talent in martial dao when you joined the Martial Pagoda battles. I recognize your immense talent in both, but I have yet to see your true character as well as your moral compass. These things take time, and I promise that I will always observe you in an impartial manner.”
Jiang Chen viewed the monarch with solemn respect. As heir to Sacred Peafowl Mountain, his authority was now only second to the emperor. None of the other monarchs would say such things to him. However, this didn’t mean that he had already gained their tacit approval. It was likely that they had the same unvoiced doubts as Plumscore Monarch. She was the only one who dared speak her mind.
Narrow-minded folks likely couldn’t even stand the sight of her. But as someone who had lived two lives, Jiang Chen knew just how important these kinds of people were to a person of high power. In fact, it was actually dangerous to not have these kinds of people around. Jiang Chen had already achieved what he’d come here for. He hadn’t visited the monarchs to show off his new authority or to make Plumscore Monarch kowtow in submission. That would be asking for too much. He had visited them as an expression of his sincerity. He took his leave after chatting a while longer.
Plumscore Monarch didn’t stop him from leaving and sent him off all the way to the entrance. “There’s no need for us to exchange pleasantries. I’m certain you will seek out Cloudsoar Monarch if you have any problems. Since you’re the owner of Progeny Feather Medallion, you can also summon the Peafowl Guard at your own discretion. I can save myself the trouble of saying you can come to me with any questions.”
Jiang Chen smiled. Her sharp tongue was truly formidable. He immediately changed the subject. “Before I entered your retreat, I saw an adorable girl, roughly five or six years of age. Is she your granddaughter?
“You mean Nian’er?” Plumscore Monarch was surprised by the question. She never thought that Jiang Chen would ask about her family matters.
Jiang Chen smiled as he nodded. “Ah, yes. She did say that she was called Nian’er.”
The monarch’s eyes became a lot more gentler at the mention of Nian’er. The angelic girl seemed capable of melting even the iciest of hearts. “Sigh… cultivation has always been my one focus. How can I have a granddaughter when I’ve yet to marry? I was kindly asked by the emperor to nurture and take good care of Nian’er. She’s a kind girl that has led a hard life. I can only imagine that it was much worse for her mother.” She suddenly glanced at Jiang Chen. “Did you hear about the marriage proposal nonsense a few days ago?”
Jiang Chen raised his eyebrow, catching her drift. “Do you mean Nian’er is Miss Dan’er’s daughter?”
Jiang Chen had never met Dan’er. They were supposed to meet two days ago, but she had locked herself away in closed door cultivation for three years due to her inability to cope with the harassment from her suitors. Emperor Peafowl told him that she had a daughter. Who would have thought that Jiang Chen would bump into her today? It felt as though he’d been poked in the softest parts of his heart when he’d met the little girl. He felt an inexplicable sense of kinship and curiosity towards that girl. He couldn’t help but wonder why. It was this precise feeling that prompted him to ask Plumscore Monarch even more questions about her. His heart trembled when he heard that the girl had led a hard life. He felt a slight mixture of pity and empathy.
Cultivators often had hearts that were as solid as rock. He was left deeply confused when such feelings had surfaced within him out of nowhere. Sigh… I guess I have no immunity to children because I didn’t spend much time with them in my previous life. However, that still doesn’t explain the inexplicable sense of kinship I feel… Jiang Chen pondered, but he eventually concluded that he was just innately fond of children. He couldn’t resist looking back when he walked out of the Plumscore Retreat. Unfortunately, fate deemed that he would have to walk away disappointed. He wanted to see the girl again, but it’d be weird if he acted overly familiar with a five-year-old child, especially when this was his first time visiting them. A person like Plumscore Monarch would absolutely read too much into his actions.
Nian’er immediately ran up to Plumscore Monarch after Jiang Chen had left.
“Grandma! They brought big brother to see you, and Nian’er wants to talk to big brother more!” Nian’er was full of joy and excitement when she ran towards the monarch.
Plumscore Monarch had just returned after sending Jiang Chen off. A rare smile appeared on her face when she saw the girl. “Nian’er, do you know who that big brother is?”
The little girl nodded in a sensible manner. “Yeah! His name is young lord Zhen. They say that he’s a hero of Veluriyam Capital!”
Plumscore Monarch frowned a little. “Does Nian’er think that he is a hero too?”
Nian’er’s big watery eyes blinked as she pondered the question. “Since everyone calls him that, Nian’er thinks that it’s probably true!”
Plumscore Monarch gently sighed and said nothing else. She couldn’t deny the young lord’s contributions to the capital. He had defeated Pillfire City and Pill King Ji Lang, both of which had definitely been great deeds of valor. Unfortunately, the monarch simply knew nothing about the young lord’s background or character. A person like her absolutely found it difficult to accept him on such short notice. But since the emperor had already made his decision, it wouldn’t be right for her to be overly pessimistic. She would never oppose a decision made by the emperor.
“Grandma, has big brother left already?” Nian’er’s eyes were darting around but she couldn’t find Jiang Chen. She seemed a little disappointed.
“Mm. He’s left. Nian’er, why are you looking for young lord Zhen? You’re too young to play with him.” Plumscore Monarch didn’t think much of it. She passed it off as a whim of a child.
“Big brother is a nice person. Nian’er found him very friendly when I first saw him. It feels like he will protect Nian’er even if the sky were to collapse one day. Grandma, big brother will protect Sacred Peafowl Mountain, the people here, and Nian’er right?” Nian’er almost seemed afraid that her grandma wouldn’t give her an answer she wanted to hear. Her tiny little face was all tensed up when she asked the question. She stared at the monarch expectantly, waiting for an answer.
Plumscore Monarch sighed yet again. “Let’s hope so.”
Nian’er quickly yelled, “He definitely will! Nian’er can tell that big brother is a good person just from his eyes alone! He will protect Nian’er and all of Sacred Peafowl Mountain!”
Plumscore Monarch sighed deeply in her mind when she heard what the girl had said. Sigh… young lord Zhen, if you are truly the esteemed protector of Sacred Peafowl Mountain, then it will be our honor to have you here. But if you are actually a miscreant with evil intentions, I have no choice but to commend you for your flawless acting. You might have fooled the entire capital, His Majesty, and even this innocent five-year-old girl…
Emotions lingered within Jiang Chen’s mind even after his return to the residence. The little girl’s smile was seared into his mind. He felt that his fate with Sacred Peafowl Mountain had suddenly become even more entangled. Not much else happened that night. A day later, the geniuses who had made it into the rankings gathered. The top thirty-six ranked geniuses were allowed entry into the main pagoda first, and those on the Genius Rankings were allowed to enter the Martial Pagoda. Jiang Chen was about to enter the best quadrant within the pagoda and stay in there for up to two years.